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An American Werewolf in London

September 19, 2010

675. An American Werewolf in London
Directed by John Landis
USA/UK, 1981

IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Rachel
First full viewing since childhood


Two American backpackers, David Kessler (David Naughton) and Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne), are attacked by a werewolf on the British moors. Jack is killed but David is wounded. When the werewolf is shot and killed, David is in line to become the next werewolf.

Essential Scene:

David has transformed into the werewolf for the first time. He has killed twice, and is still roaming around London…

In a brilliant cut from the previous scene, we see the rabid snarling face of the werewolf cut to a train screeching past the camera. The train arrives at Tottenham Court Road station. The few passengers on the platform board the train, while one man steps off.

The train departs, leaving the man alone on the platform. Anyone who has been at an Underground station when it’s late and mostly deserted will know how incredibly eerie it is. Distant train sounds and wind echo through the tunnels. But in this case, a hollow howl can be heard.

The man, Gerald Bringsley (Michael Carter), calls out; “Hello? Is someone there?”

He hears another growl, which seems nearer than the previous two.

Gerald: I can assure you this is not in the least bit amusing. [Pause.] I shall report this!

He turns out of the platform and starts up the escalator, looking back at where he’s just come from. At the top of the escalator he starts to walk through the station. A clear growl is heard he turns around. The camera, from the werewolf’s point of view, turns the corner to meet him and he looks on in shock.

Gerald: Good lord…

He backs away slowly before starting to run. The camera follows him quickly down the claustrophobic tunnel. The perspective changes from that of the werewolf and that of Gerald, until he gets to another escalator. He falls face first into it, and slowly turns himself around.

The camera, now at the top of the escalator, tilts down to the werewolf slowly approaching Gerald.

The scene ends from the werewolf’s perspective, as he slowly takes his time climbing up to meet Gerald’s terrified face.


[wolf howl]
Jack: Did you hear that?
David: I heard that.
Jack: What was it?
David: Could be a lot of things.
Jack: Yeah?
David: A coyote.
Jack: There aren’t any coyotes in England.
David: The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Jack: Pecos Bill.
David: Heathcliff.
Jack: Heathcliff didn’t howl!
David: No, but he was on the moors.

Hollywood seemed to panic when they tried to categorise An American Werewolf in London. Is it a comedy? Is it a horror? Well, it’s funny but it’s genuinely frightening. There is such a thing as genre melding and that gives the execs a headache.

The film also a beautiful melding of the US and the UK. Filmed entirely in the UK with an American director, two brilliant American actors and a cast full of fantastic British character actors.

Oh, I can’t say enough things. See it, pwease.

Our twitter friend Mark (@HurstAKA) recently met director John Landis. Read about his experience: Kentucky Fried Coincidence

4 Comments leave one →
  1. NickOLarse permalink
    September 22, 2010 10:29 pm

    A friend of mine (honestly…not me), after watching one particular scene, suggested the film should be called “An American Tongue In Agutter”. Sorry to have to relay this; I won’t be offended if you delete this comment.

    • Rachel permalink
      September 23, 2010 4:44 pm

      Maybe that’s the name of the porn film being shown in the cinema?(!)

  2. October 28, 2010 12:59 am

    Considering its often campy competition, it’s hard to argue that, if your in the mood for lycanthropy, London is the place to go. Nice post, check out my review when you can!

  3. May 24, 2013 11:17 pm

    “I’m sorry I called you a meat loaf, Jack!”

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